At the end of Calle Pilitas, where it intersects with Pino Suarez, walkers can find a stairway that historically connected Amapas residents near the highway with neighbors on Pilitas and provided pedestrian access to the beach.
The stairs were destroyed during the construction of 212 Pilitas several years ago, and, despite the developer’s promises to neighbors, never rebuilt.
Last year ANA worked with neighbors, including the San Franciscan, Escondido and Cañada Romantica condominiums, to get City permission to rebuild the Pilitas Stairs.
Neighbors and ANA collected more than 200 signatures, in support of the project. ANA created a file that includes a topographic survey, renders, a floor plan, and an investigation through various City Hall departments.
ANA has done our work. Now it is up to the City to do their part. Currently ANA is waiting for a work permit to be issued. Once secured, ANA will start a gofundme campaign to collect funds from the surrounding neighbors who will be benefit from this project.
About two dozen ANA members gathered on November 8 for ANA’s Membership Consultation, hosted by Casa Cupula’s ‘Taste’ restaurant. The meeting provided an opportunity for members to ask questions, offer suggestions, raise neighborhood issues, and air complaints, so that Board members could get a better sense of what’s on members’ minds and what their priorities are.
Board members, along with ANA Administrator Viviana Teston, answered questions and took lots of notes. Among issues raised:
· Q: Mike Lyman wanted to know about the deteriorating condition of the Abedul stairs, which many residents and renters take from Hortensias down to Calle Amapas.
· A: This is a big, complicated project because the stairs are so old and so badly deteriorated, plus giant, invasive trees with giant, invasive roots, and many encroachments by neighors. ANA conducted a University Architectural Design Competition last year to find a good design starting point, but the closer we looked at the stairs, the bigger the problems and cost to repair. ANA is currently sponsoring the creation of an Executive Plan for Calle Pulpito, improving sidewalks, adding planters and street lights, and taking overhead wires underground. The object is to present the finished plan to City Hall for approval and execution. If successful, the Abedul Stairs will be our next Executive Plan initiative.
· Q: Richard Francisco complained about loud late-night truck braking on the highway near Paramont Bay – could topes help? Also, the Bomberos turn on their ambulance siren as they leave the Casita, even in the middle of the night, with no traffic. Can anything be done…?
· A: This is really a matter of Transito enforcement. Two or three years ago, at neighbors’ requests, ANA posted signs warning drivers NOT to downshift to slow their vehicles on the downgrade in the Paramount
Bay area, which is the practice that causes those loud, late-night ‘truck farts.’ No luck with the signs.
It’s unlikely that topes will help, but maybe make even more noise as cars and trucks encounter them in the middle of the night. We’ll discuss topes a little later. All ANA can really do is petition Transito to pay attention to the problem and maybe assign occasional patrols to stake out the area and ticket offenders. Frankly, we’re doubtful that this will become a police priority, but we can ask.
Regarding the Bomberos’ late-night sirens: we have a good relationship with them, and we will make a request. No promises.
· Q: Merv Prichard also said that truck airbrakes were a problem, and expressed concern about pedestrican safety at the Hortensias intersection crossing, and asked about the Highway Sidewalk Project.
· A: Your ANA Board has appropriated funds to repaint our highway crosswalks, topes, and the center-line, all the way to Basilio Badillo. Transito has agreed to do the painting, it’s just a matter of ‘when,’ and Viviana is bugging them regularly.
In Mexico, vehicles have the right of way, and it’s ‘pedestrian, beware.’ So Transito determined the placement of our five Amapas crosswalks, not for maximum pedestrian convenience, but for maximum visibility – so pedestrians could see vehicles coming, and vice-versa. Hopefully, repainting the crosswalks and the white warning stripes will help, but it will always pay to be on your toes.
The answer on a Highway Sidewalk start-date was, we’re working on it. City Hall has placed us ‘in the queue,’ and we’re waiting impatiently – maybe a couple more weeks. (Ed. Note: Phase One has since started, and, at this writing, is about a week away from completion.)
· Don Oxford expressed concern and asked for information on the risks to condo buildings, associations and owners when individual owners advertise their units for rent.
· A: This is an issue that has been simmering for years. We know from experience that SEAPAL (and probably other utilities) have been sniffing around for a couple of years, trying to ID individuals renting out their properties, which can make them ‘commercial,’ as opposed to strictly residential. In a situation where a building has multiple owners, but a single utility source and billing ID, theoretically, a single rental unit could trigger a re-designation of the entire building, leading to a higher rate for everybody, and more frequent billing.
Unregistered, and UNTAXED rental properties may also be facing a financial wakeup call, as Mexican governments at all levels become more able – and more motivated – to identify owners who are not reporting rental income…and not paying the taxes that go with it.
In order to fill the ‘information gap’ on this subject, ANA will be hosting a MEMBERS ONLY Presentation on Mexican taxes and other liabilities owners may face. The event is scheduled for Saturday, January 8, 2018, 11 AM at Encanto. We’ll be sending out invitations soon.
· Q: Someone asked about the sad state of the makeshift stairs that descend from Hortensias, at the north end of the bridge, to the Callejon – a longstanding ‘shortcut’ used by residents and workers to get up and down the hill.
· A: Two years ago, your ANA Board appropriated funds and hired workers to transform the old-tire stairs into a solid and safe all-weather cement block stairway, and even add a railing. Unfortunately, the owner of the property blocked us, pretended to negotiate a one-peso/year, revocable-by-her-at-any-time rental agreement to memorialize her uncontested rights to the property…and then stopped answering the phone: Dead end.
Considering the interest expressed, ANA will research with the Planning Department whether there is any way around this stalemate that will improve pedestrian safety without violating property rights.
· Highway Topes: Some neighbors want more, some want to make the ones we have at Callejon de la Igualdad go away forever.
· A: This is an ongoing balancing-act between public/pedestrian safety, and the ability to breeze along the highway unencumbered and carefree, not to mention not having to endure the bouncing.
And there´s no easy, One Size Fits All answer – someone will always be unhappy because there are too many – or too few – topes on our highway.
We’ll continue this conversation, and try to figure it out.
There was also a discussion about all the new condo towers springing up in downtown, aka Emiliano Zapata. The sense of the room (well, actually 100%) was that ANA should take a strong stand and do whatever it reasonably could to encourage responsible development that respects the neighborhood and the law, and discourage out-of-scale new construction.
While the majority of ANA members were beginning their annual migration back North, the Amapas Neighborhood Association (ANA) began an English as Second Language (ESL) Program for the PoliceDepartment. Based on the conversations between the police and ANA, while we were discussing the new VEA (Vecinos En Alerta) program, the police identified their need to improve their English language skills. The VEA program is Neighborhood Watch on steroids. It allows a trained ANA member, using WhatsApp, to communicate directly with local police officers. Since most Amapas members speak English, helping the local police improve their knowledge of English seemed a way to bridge the gap.
ANA to the rescue!! Viviana Testón, our administrator who previously had experience teaching English and Spanish to second language learners, developed the program. Steve Ross, an ANA member and a retired high school teacher, joined in the effort as a way to improve his Spanish skills and to give back to the community he loves. Wanting the police to be successful, they assessed each officer’s current English language skills. They were expecting to have 15 students. They were surprised to find the first week of classes filled to the brim. Thirty officers attended each of the three-day classes. Was it a success? YES!
As of the writing of this article, there have been five weeks of classes, three days a week with over 90 students. That’s a lot of people! Classes are held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons between 5:30 to 6:30 pm. Each night a different group of police officers attend before working the night shift.
We are happy to share that they are excited, motivated, and open to learning These first weeks have focused on the basics of grammar and vocabulary. Adult learners quickly tire of rote memorization so we’ve included phrases they can use as soon as they leave the classroom. The classes are quick-paced but in a friendly and casual atmosphere. The positive feedback not only reflects upon the instructors, Viviana and Steve, but also upon the entire Amapas community. Why? ANA is making this class happen. This class reflects the desires of ANA’s members to give back to and improve the community in which we live. We benefit from having a police force who can speak and understand us.
Recently, Carol Moore, another ANA member, has joined the class to help in whatever way she can. An extra set of hands goes a long way! We know that as more of our members return from their summer vacations we’ll have more volunteers.
It is a joy to work with such motivated students! We are excited about creating this partnership between the police department and ANA and to improve the community we share.
As many of us know, learning another language is a long-term commitment. We want to continue offering these classes. iI you would like to be part of this project or contribute to its success, please email Viviana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporting Crime and Police Response Procedures
As part of ANA’s Collaboration on Crime Prevention
VEA is Vallarta’s new neighborhood-based crime prevention program – sort of a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ on steroids, providing instant reporting via Whatsapp, VEA is an acronym for Vecinos En Alerta – ‘Neighbors on the Lookout’ – and Amapas has been invited to participate.
In a recent example of VEA’s ability to summon immediate police response, last month ANA Board Member for Security Gene Mendoza used the Whasapp group to trigger a life-saving rapid response from authorities. It’s already working.
(This is the second in a series, drawing on ANA-Sponsored neighborhood/police meetings. You can find the first article on the ANA Website here.)
I called the police, now what?
After reporting a crime via Whatsapp, dialing 911 (or 089 for anonymous reporting), members of our neighborhood have asked what to expect.
The first response to reported crime or crime in progress is taken by the municipal police who will arrive and take action to stabilize the situation and coordinate care for any injured parties. With that accomplished, the police will make a report of what transpired including an initial report of any property losses.
Be sure to get a copy of the police report number for further reference, and email it to ANA Administrator Viviana Teston — email@example.com – for follow up.
The municipal police serve primarily as Preventive Police (Policía Preventiva) and do not investigate crime, but collect and catalogue crime information to identify emerging patterns or trends that might aid in future crime prevention. They pass their report up the chain of command for more complete investigation.
Investigation of the Crime by Agents of the District Attorney
No later than two to three days after the initial crime report is taken by the municipal police, victims should expect to be contacted by the investigative Ministerial Police who perform the preliminary investigation. These officers, from the District Attorney’s Office (Fiscalía), will collect and catalogue the crime information for the purpose of apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators.
The formal preparation of victims’ statements is very important to the Mexican legal system, but the District Attorney stated in the February 16th VEA meeting that victims should not be required to visit the District Attorney’s Office to sign the formal translation of their statements.
Victims of property crime, including theft and burglary, should expect to be asked to demonstrate their ownership of the stolen property through sales receipts, model and serial number information, or the statement of a witness (friend or neighbor) vouching for the presence of the property before the crime.
Most cases of petty property crime will not require the use of Expert Services Unit more commonly referred to on TV as the crime scene investigators or CSI. However, in serious crimes, these services may be employed to take finger prints and other forensic evidence.
So, if you’re the victim of a crime, the arrival of the Municipal Police is just the beginning, not the end, of your involvement. If the Investigative Police don’t show up after two or three days, you should get in touch with the Fiscalía – see, we told you that police report number would come in handy – and follow up.
As the DA explained in our second meeting, every police force at every level has limited resources to pursue criminal cases, so they prioritize – the worst crimes, and crimes most likely to be solved, understandably get the most attention.
If your case is relatively minor, or unlikely to be solved (lack of witnesses, lack of evidence, etc.), it may not get the attention you think it deserves. If that’s the situation, it’s up to you to push the DA’s office for more follow-up.
You can also contact Tourism’s Legal Attention to Visitors Office, offering free legal assistance to tourists and resident expats. Their office in Cardenas Park is open Monday-Friday, 8 to 4. There’s also a desk in the Tourism office in the downtown City Hall, Monday-Friday, 8-8. English is spoken, and they offer help with translation. The office phone is 322-222-2224. Initial complaints can be made by email, preferably with details and photos included. The office email is firstname.lastname@example.org